Mystery Monday: Is Joseph Geissler’s death story true?

Family Legend Fact or Fiction

The death of my 3rd great grandfather, Joseph Geißler, could be a legend handed down through the generations or it could be true. How would you go about deciding what is fact and what is fiction?

Death story about Joseph Geisler in Margie Wasson’s scrapbook in her handwriting.

The story reads:

Henry Geiszler

“Henry’s father was on horseback and rode into Fort Hayes. Guard yelled Halt. He only spoke German and as the story went didn’t understand. So the guard shot him and he died. His widow married a Billman and loved on a farm in Georgesville. As a boy, this is where my dad visited and remembered his grandmother driving her horse.”

The first step would be to determine the names of all the people.

Henry Geiszler’s father is indeed Joseph Geißler. Joseph’s widow is Caroline (Mack) Geißler Billman. She married Michael Billman, and they did have a farm Georgesville, Franklin County, Ohio.

“My Dad” is Margie Wasson’s father George Joseph Geiszler, son of Henry Geiszler (of this writing). “His Grandmother” once again is Caroline Billman.

So, the 2nd great-granddaughter of Joseph Geißler is writing the story down about his death, along with a brief mention of her father’s trip to the 2nd great-grandmother’s second husband’s farm. Confused much?

There is a lot more to dissect, but I’d love to know what you would do with a story like this. How would you prove/disprove whether Joseph was killed outside Fort Hayes because he was German and told to halt but didn’t understand?

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6 thoughts on “Mystery Monday: Is Joseph Geissler’s death story true?

  1. Thanks for sharing your husband's family history tidbit. I bet you're so glad to have those scraps of paper. And the accuracy. Yee-haw! I think there may be truth in the legend, but what it is will need to be deciphered.

  2. First thing is did was translate "Halt!" into German. It's "Halt!" so if that is what the guard actually said, he couldn't have been shot because he didn't understand. Something else must have been happening.

  3. Interesting fragment of family history. My husband's grandfather left scraps of paper with names and dates…90% of which turned out to be accurate. So it's very possible this family legend has basis in fact, even if the details aren't completely accurate. Good luck!

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